Migrate, Stay Active, or Hibernate?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Pumpkins were laced with frost last Saturday morning and that sudden temperature plunge sent motorists scrambling for window scrapers as squirrels went into overdrive nut gathering mode. Hours of daylight are diminishing and leaves are cascading downwards with each gust of wind. Although some humans head south for the entire winter, most of us simply adapt to the cold with heavier coats, warm houses, vacation dreams and weather-adjusted outdoor plans. But what about the wildlife in our midst as temperatures continue to fall and food gets harder to find? They have three choices: migrate, stay active, or hibernate. Continue reading

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes of October

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The woods and lakeshores of Oakland County have accelerated their seasonal transition with cool breezes and colorful leaves, luring hikers and cyclists to our trails, picnickers and late season kayakers to our parks and lakes, and large numbers of residents to our cider mills. Just like humans, wildlife creatures are soaking up the sun during the shortening days of our autumn season, including the only venomous snake found in Oakland County, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Continue reading

Easy Hiking at Crooked Lake

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

October is not the time to stay indoors and wish you were outside. In the past few weeks I’ve had inquiries from folks that are new to the world of hiking and want to start the hiking experience on trails that are “easy to hike” while enjoying the splendor of October. Easy can be interpreted in different ways by different people. It’s been ten years this month since I hiked up what was billed as the “easy” side approach of Mount Kilimanjaro. I struggled at times in the thin air, but made it to the 19,340 foot high summit. It was not easy. Let’s forget the word easy for now; if you are looking for a trail that’s family-friendly, embraces nature, and perhaps most importantly, won’t get you lost, I have one for you. It’s a real gem with great lakeshore views, and if you hike on the weekend you will never be alone.
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Creepy Crawly Wondrous Walkingsticks

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Even with near record-breaking heat earlier this week, the season of encountering six-legged, creepy crawly things is slowly winding down. There are exceptions, and leading the pack of exceptions in Oakland County is the Northern Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata). These well camouflaged creatures spend most of the summer in the canopy of our oak trees, but as the days shorten they descend to lower levels and surprise encounters become more frequent when they meander onto shrubs, porches, and the sunny sides of homes and outbuildings.
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